Celeste McGovern investigates the top 10 ways to clear the deadly spike protein from your body
At 50, Heidi Ferrer looked 10 years younger than her age. She was slim and vivacious with long, blond hair and glowing skin. She had a handsome husband, a beautiful son and a passion for her work writing television scripts and encouraging other women on her Girl to Mom blog.
Looking at photos of her posing at a Hollywood gala, walking barefoot on a beach or clutching a bouquet of sunflowers, it’s easy to see why people close to her called her “sunshine in a dress.” And it’s hard to imagine what could have made her take her own life in her bedroom in May 2021.
Ferrer’s husband, Nick Guthe, wrote later in the Guardian about how he found Heidi in the afternoon and tried to revive her while their 13-year-old son waited for paramedics outside. She died at the hospital.
A doctor assumed she was depressed, Guthe recalled. “When I told him, ‘She wasn’t depressed, it was long Covid,’ he looked at me with bewilderment and asked, ‘What’s long Covid?’”
Guthe’s column was fulfilling a promise to his wife to raise awareness about long Covid, a disease with a wide spectrum of more than 200 symptoms that affect a minority of people following a coronavirus infection. Sufferers experience everything from “brain fog” and heart palpitations to neurological tremors and extreme fatigue.
While for most Covid is a mild infection that’s gone in two weeks if not days, for some, a range of symptoms continue to crop up afterward. A Dutch study in the Lancet found last year that one in eight people who had Covid infections were reporting persistent symptoms, including loss of smell, chest pain or fatigue, three to five months later.1 For an unknown number, those symptoms can be life-wrecking.
Heidi had Covid in April 2020, and her lingering post-infection symptoms began with “Covid toes”—a condition that made her feet red and painful and robbed her of sleep. She had gastrointestinal issues, and extreme fatigue made walking up a flight of stairs exhausting. Her heart would race for no apparent reason.
Urination and sex became painful, and her cognitive issues worsened so she couldn’t read a book. By May 2021, she was bedridden with pain and neurological tremors, and a few weeks before her suicide, she said she thought she might die of a heart attack or stroke.
Two years later, long Covid is a more familiar term thanks in part to a flurry of research in centers around the world trying to shed light on the disease. But the knowledge growth is also fueled by a steady flow of patients with the condition.
“Every day I’m seeing patients with post-Covid conditions,” says Dr Svetlana Blitshteyn, a neurologist who founded the Dysautonomia Clinic in New York. She sees patients with chronic fatigue syndrome or myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS), fibromyalgia and other neurologic conditions at the clinic.
Long Covid has much in common with these other chronic conditions that have been around for decades. Postviral illnesses marked by extreme fatigue that also affect a range of body systems, including the autonomic nervous system, are nothing new. Similarly mysterious multisystemic conditions have been documented to follow the use of some drugs, like fluoroquinolone antibiotics.2
Dr Blitshteyn has documented an autonomic system disorder called postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) in multiple girls following the HPV vaccination, for example.3 These cases, however, were virtually ignored by mainstream medicine, so it’s common for emergency doctors and general practitioners to dismiss them as imagined or psychiatric illness.
The new stream of patients coming in post-Covid—and post-Covid vaccines—many of whom are between ages 20 and 50 and who are slightly more often women than men (which is also a common feature of autoimmune conditions) is slowly shifting the scene. New practices and therapies are springing up to help them.
Molecular biologist Bruce Patterson, formerly the medical director of diagnostic virology at Stanford University Hospitals and Clinic, and his team of researchers at private California-based IncellDX published the first major study showing persistence of the spike protein in long-haulers post-infection.4
Subsequent research showed that 14 immune system players in inflammation, called cytokines, were elevated in long-haulers, like in CFS/ME, and later the team showed that people with post-Covid vaccine chronic conditions also had similar immune system “signatures” despite negative Covid tests. Patterson has set up a website (covidlonghaulers.com) that offers mailout tests for these cytokine markers and personalized online treatment based on test results.
The ongoing research and long Covid’s similarity to other chronic conditions are leading to a greater understanding of how long Covid works. “We certainly know from multiple studies that the immune system in long Covid patients is altered,” Dr Blitshteyn told WDDTY.
“The cytokines are different, there are autoimmune-inflammatory changes, and the differences can be seen in neuroimaging, in altered microglia (brain cells) and other neurological manifestations,” says Blitshteyn. “Lots of changes exist. It appears that immunologic, autoimmune changes might be the basis of post-Covid conditions.”
Dr Keith Berkowitz, who trained under Robert Atkins, has been treating many long Covid cases at his Center for Balanced Health in New York, combining mainstream and integrative medicine. He is a co-founder of the Front Line Covid-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC), a coalition of doctors from multiple fields who have helped millions of people and thousands of doctors to prevent and treat Covid, and to help patients with long Covid and mRNA vaccine injury.
Berkowitz’s first patient was himself when he became ill after Covid in 2020, and then again after a first dose of mRNA vaccine in 2021, after which long-haulers started flooding in. More recently, he thinks, more of the patients he sees have had a vaccine injury, but there is much overlap in their symptoms.
The common denominator in both conditions, he says, is the coronavirus spike protein, the prickly barb on the outside of the virus. The spike attaches to ACE2 receptors to facilitate entry into cells, where it wreaks its havoc. The fast-tracked mRNA vaccines are designed to hijack cellular machinery inside the body so that the host’s cells are then churning out this spike—the most dangerous part of the virus—and the ACE2 receptors it binds are throughout the body.5
“A key question is, how long does spike protein last in the body?” Berkowitz asks. It persists in long Covid and has been found a few months after vaccination in some, but no studies have looked beyond this.
“The more exposure you get to the spike protein, oftentimes, the sicker people are,” Dr Berkowitz adds. “As you get exposure, your immune system gets revved up.” The hallmark of Covid, long Covid and vaccine injury is a hyperactivated immune system.
“I don’t think we’ve seen anything before like this that has so many different mechanisms of action,” says Berkowitz, who treated HIV early in his career.
Exposure to the spike protein from Covid itself or from the vaccine can cause viral persistence,1 inflammation, reactivation of other viruses including Epstein-Barr and herpes,2 blood clotting and damage to endothelial cells that line small vessels,3 damage to mitochondria,4 mast cell activation5 and an acid-base imbalance.6
The core problem is long-lasting “immune dysregulation,” according to the FLCCC. In their long Covid protocol, available in detail at covid19criticalcare.com/treatment-protocols, they aim to help the body restore a healthy immune system by clearing out the spike protein, countering its damage and restoring calm to the system.
What’s good for Covid seems to be good for long Covid, and for post-mRNA-vaccination injury. Dr Berkowitz says he has seen many patients improve dramatically on the FLCCC protocol. Here are its top 10 first-line recommendations.
Fasting can reset your immune system, triggering a process called autophagy in which your body gobbles up and flushes damaged cells and mitochondria and proteins like the spike protein, which then triggers an increase in stem cell production for renewal.
What you eat when you break the fast is critical, too. Anti-inflammatory is the main theme, with real foods that are not processed. Inflammatory sugar, fructose and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids found in vegetable oils should be ousted.
Tips: There are a few ways to get your body into a fasting state: one is not eating for 24-hour periods twice a week. Or you can eat within windows, beginning with 12 hours of not eating each day (including sleep time) and extending as far as 20 hours a day without food. Extended fasts of up to 72 hours are especially beneficial and have been shown to reboot the immune system in mice after toxic damage.7
Perhaps the most helpful treatment during the Covid pandemic was ivermectin. While thousands of doctors around the world pointed to the drug’s four-decade history of more than 3.7 billion uses to eradicate parasitic infections, to its global safety record, and its remarkable anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties, mainstream medicine and public health suddenly called the World Health Organization essential medicine a dangerous “horse dewormer,” mocking patients who used it and stripping medical licenses from doctors who were prescribing it and saving lives.
More than 40 randomized controlled studies confirm the benefits of ivermectin for Covid-19. Recently, it has been shown to bind to spike protein and interfere with its attachment to the human cell membrane, preventing and limiting infection.8
Another 2022 paper shows ivermectin’s very positive gut microbiome effect: upregulating anti-inflammatory Bifidobacteria.9
Due to the possible interaction between quercetin and ivermectin, they should not be taken at the same time but can be taken at different times on the same day, for example, one in the morning and one at night. It is best taken with food for greater absorption.
Ivermectin should not be used where pregnancy is possible or in the first trimester of pregnancy because of lack of data. Some people don’t respond to ivermectin treatment. Others may need to take it continuously to keep symptoms at bay.
Dosage: The FLCCC recommends taking 0.2–0.3 mg/kg body weight per day for at least two months before trying to cut the dose or frequency.
Moderating physical and mental activity is crucial for long Covid patients feeling post-exertional malaise (PEM)—a crash after activity that can cause symptoms including crushing fatigue, dizziness, headaches, neurological problems and pain for hours to days afterward. Do too much, and you will pay for it with a world of pain.
This is because Covid affects the mitochondria and squeezes the production of ATP—the energizing molecule of all cellular activity. When ATP is used up, it’s not regenerated very quickly, a deficit that disrupts cellular functions throughout the body.
The American Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Society (AMECFSS) suggests pacing, a strategy to keep yourself from running out of energy. Some people think of it as having an internal phone battery that must be charged frequently or as starting the day with a fixed “energy envelope” to spend on the day. Others have adopted spoon theory.
This means figuring out a “baseline” of activity that you can manage without collapsing afterward, then stopping before you reach it.
Tips: These are a few basic pacing strategies for long-haulers.
Naltrexone is a 1960s drug used to treat opioid overdose at doses of 50–100 mg daily. Low-dose naltrexone (LDN)—a small fraction of the typical opioid addiction treatment dosage, 1–5 mg/day—is shown to have very different properties, plus painkilling and anti-inflammatory actions.10
LDN has been used to treat autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and Crohn’s disease, and to reduce pain in small studies of fibromyalgia patients.11 “I’ve been using it for years,” the FLCCC’s Berkowitz says. “It helps calm down the immune system.”
LDN has been suggested to prevent blood clotting in Covid-19.12 Researchers in Ireland tested it on 38 Covid long-haulers, and at the end of two months of treatment, they found improvement in six of seven parameters, including recovery from Covid-19, limitation in activities of daily living, energy levels, pain levels, levels of concentration and sleep disturbance. Two patients discontinued the drug because of fatigue and diarrhea, but no other side effects were reported.13
As well as eating an anti-inflammatory and probiotic diet and pacing her activities, Naima Ella, a Covid long-hauler from London, started taking 0.5 mg of LDN in March this year and noticed a difference quickly.
Within six weeks, she said, “I’m only at half the dose but it already feels like I am improving day to day. I have more energy. I seem to bounce back better from flares and crashes.”
Dosage: The FLCCC recommends beginning LDN, which can be made by a compounding pharmacist, with 1 mg/day and increasing to 4.5 mg/day as required. It may take two to three months for full effect.
Natto is a traditional dish of soybeans fermented by Bacillus subtilis bacteria that has been served up for about a thousand years in Japan. Sticky and stringy, natto has not become popular in Western diets.
However, an active enzyme extracted from it and made into a supplement, called nattokinase, has been flying off shelves since the Covid pandemic began because of research showing it is more effective than statins at clearing blood clotting in atherosclerosis.14 Besides clearing arteries, nattokinase degrades the spike protein.15
There are rare, reported risks of bleeding in elderly patients taking nattokinase, and in those with renal failure or on aspirin. Some Covid long-haulers have nausea or other GI troubles after taking nattokinase, especially when combining it with similar enzymes like serapeptase or lumbrokinase (derived from worms), and it should be taken in an enteric-coated capsule and on an empty stomach.
Dosage: The FLCCC recommends supplementing with 100–200 mg (2,000–4,000 FU) twice daily. Aspirin (81 mg daily) can be added in low-risk patients.
Melatonin, a hormone secreted by the pineal gland, has a role in regulating the sleep-wake cycle as well as anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antioxidant and anti-blood-clotting properties. It also modulates the immune system and is a powerful regulator of mitochondrial function.
Low levels of melatonin have been recorded in severe Covid-19 patients, and infection with coronavirus has been demonstrated to disrupt melatonin production. Studies have shown supplementing with melatonin can improve Covid outcomes, however.16
One study published in 2023 randomly allocated 226 Covid-test-positive patients in ICU to the melatonin treatment group and to a control group receiving standard-of-care treatment only. Those who received 5 mg gel capsules of melatonin twice daily had a 67 percent mortality rate compared to 94 percent of the control group.
The melatonin group had fewer days on a ventilator, earlier discharges from the hospital, and improved markers of inflammation and blood coagulation. Dizziness was the main reported side effect.17
Dr Berkowitz has found that tinnitus is one of the most stubborn symptoms of long-haulers to treat, and melatonin has shown some promise in ameliorating the condition.18
Dosage: The FLCCC recommends 2–6 mg of slow-release melatonin at bedtime as it can cause drowsiness.
Research has shown that magnesium, which has a role in more than 600 enzymatic reactions in the body, is anti-inflammatory, maintains muscle integrity, reduces over-excitation of muscles and nerves, and facilitates other nutrients’ functions. Without adequate magnesium, the body is effectively vitamin D deficient as well.19
People with the highest levels of magnesium intake in one recent study fared better than those with low magnesium levels when hospitalized for Covid-19, and their hospital stays were shorter as well.20
“I would not have made it through long covid this far without magnesium therapy. It’s been that essential,” one long-hauler remarked on a social media platform. “The massive inflammation associated with covid causes a massive loss of magnesium, and without replacing that you’re on a ticking clock. I had a bath last night with 1kg of salts and soaked in it for 2 hours, that’s my standard, I do that every other week and then top up with home made mag paste in between.”
To make one tablespoon of magnesium paste, combine 1 tablespoon of Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) or magnesium chloride flakes with ½ tablespoon of warm water and mix until the salt dissolves into a paste. Rub it into the bottoms of the feet for quick absorption.
You can also make a magnesium salt spray by combining Epsom salts with water in a spray bottle. Spray on the bottoms of the feet and let dry.
The target range for the red blood cell (RBC-Mag) test is at the high end of the normal range (4.2–6.8 mg/dL to be about 6.0 ng/dL). Magnesium malate, taurate, L-threonate and glycinate are absorbed better than magnesium oxide and citrate.
Dosage: The FLCCC advises a starting dose of 100–200 mg daily, increasing as tolerated up to 300 mg (women) or 400 mg (men) daily.
Methylene blue is an over-the-counter drug that is one of the oldest chemical compounds in medicine. Used to treat conditions including cyanide poisoning, it is anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral and neuroprotective, and it induces mitophagy (a cellular garbage disposal mechanism for spent mitochondria), which promotes the production of new mitochondria.
Methylene easily crosses the blood-brain barrier and seeks out neuronal mitochondria. In brain tissue where it has levels tenfold higher than blood serum levels, it stimulates mitochondrial respiration by donating electrons to the electron transport chain.21 It has shown promise in several neurologic conditions and so is thought to help in post-Covid and post-vaccine neurologic conditions.22
When using methylene blue, you may notice a blue or blue-green tinge to your urine. It can also discolor teeth, so brush and rinse after taking drops. Some patients may experience a Herxheimer reaction—a detox phenomenon—of increased fatigue, nausea, headache or muscle pain. If this happens, stop the protocol for 48 hours and then resume slowly.
The FLCCC says methylene blue should never be taken with antidepressants and other MAOI drugs because it can cause life-threatening serotonin syndrome. Don’t take it with bupropion, which is often prescribed for fatigue and brain fog.
It should also never be taken if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. People with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency (G6PD) should not use methylene blue as it can cause hemolytic anemia.
Dosage: The optimal dose is individualized. Use only a high-quality, pharmaceutical-grade 1 percent methylene blue (never industrial-grade) solution or mix 1 g of USP-grade methylene blue powder with 100 mL of water. General dosing in studies runs from 0.5 mg/kg to 4 mg/kg per day. The FLCCC advises starting with low-dose methylene blue as follows:
There’s science behind the age-old recommendations for sunshine and fresh air to heal illness. “Open-air treatment of influenzae”—lots of ventilation and sunshine—during the Spanish flu of 1918 saved lives,23 and avoiding sunshine is linked to higher all-cause mortality.24
Sunlight is the natural precursor to vitamin D, and dozens of studies point to vitamin D as a critical factor in healing from respiratory illnesses, including Covid.
For those who can’t find sunshine, several LED panels with multiple red and infrared lights are commercially available, and ThermaLight® bulbs have a radiation spectrum closely resembling that of solar radiation, but without UV radiation.
Photobiomodulation (PBM) is red or near infrared light therapy that stimulates healing. It has similar favorable effects on mitochondrial function, oxidative damage and inflammation as methylene blue, and the two can be combined for added effect.25 Of all the wavelengths of sunlight, near infrared radiation in the range of 1,000–1,500 nm is best for heating deep tissues.
Infrared light has been shown to tamp down the inflammation that Covid-19 causes.26 One study of hospitalized Covid patients showed treatment with LED lights helped them leave the hospital sooner and improved their blood cells and cardiopulmonary function compared to those who got a sham light therapy.27
Dosage: The FLCCC suggests that Covid long-haulers get about 30 minutes of midday sunshine whenever possible and recommends the book The Ultimate Guide to Red Light Therapy by Ari Whitten for those wanting to try PBM.
Emerging evidence is pointing to the gut microbiome as a central point of long Covid and vaccine injury.
In their landmark 2022 study in BMJ Open Gastroenterology, gastroenterologist Sabine Hazan, the CEO of ProgenaBiome and Ventura Clinical Trials, and her colleagues examined the microbiome profiles in stool samples from 20 control patients—people who were exposed to Covid-positive individuals but remained healthy and tested negative. They compared them to those of 28 individuals who were positive for Covid-19 and had infections ranging from asymptomatic to severe.
All Covid-positive patients had a lower relative abundance of Bifidobacterium, Faecalibacterium, and Roseburium but higher Bacteroides. The more severe the infection was in these patients, the more amplified the differences in bacteria abundance were.
“These findings suggest that probiotic supplementation or fecal microbiota transplantation should be explored as a potential therapeutic avenue for patients with SARS-CoV-2,” the authors concluded.28
In a follow-up study, Dr Hazan’s team recorded the relative abundance of genus Bifidobacteria in four subjects before they received the mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna). They looked again at one, six and nine months after vaccination and found that the abundance of Bifidobacteria had plummeted in all four people by 40–100 percent.29
Bifidobacteria play a critical role in digestion and in producing nutrients, including biotin, which is critical for fetal development, liver and nervous function.30
On social media platforms, many people confirm their experiences of gut symptoms long after both Covid infection and Covid vaccination. Dr Berkowitz suggests bovine colostrum as well, and he finds that oral probiotics help some people.
“I had terrible long Covid, and I was scared I would never work again,” Amanda Jane remarked on one media platform. “I tried everything, but drinking Kombucha [Remedy brand, two 330 mL bottles a day, until cutting to one bottle a day] is what led to my recovery. The link was undeniable. I even noticed I would slip backwards if I didn’t have any in the morning. I’m still not fully recovered, but I can work and lead a relatively normal life.”
Dosage: Consume foods or supplements containing a wide variety of probiotic bacteria, especially Bifidobacteria.
The table below shows the top recommendations of FLCCC doctors for long Covid and Covid mRNA vaccine injury, including “second-line therapies,” such as supplements.
(not symptom-specific; listed in order of importance)
(listed in order of importance)
|Intermittent daily fasting or periodic daily fasts
|Vitamin D (4,000–5,000 units/day) and vitamin K2 (100 mcg/day)
|Hyperbaric oxygen therapy
|Ivermectin; 0.2–0.3 mg/kg daily
|N-acetyl cysteine (NAC);
|Low-magnitude mechanical stimulation (LMMS or whole-body vibration)
|Moderate physical activity
|Cardio Miracle™ and L-arginine/
|“Mitochondrial energy optimizer”
|Low-dose naltrexone (LDN);
|Omega-3 fatty acids; we suggest a combination of EPA/DHA with an initial dose of 1 g daily (combined EPA and DHA) and increasing up to 4 g/day (of the active omega-3 fatty acids)
|Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ); 200 mg twice/day for one to two weeks, then reduce as tolerated to 200 mg/day
|Nattokinase; 100–200 mg (2,000–4,000 fibrinolytic units) twice/day
|Sildenafil with or without
L-arginine and L-citrulline
10–15 mg/day prednisone for three weeks, then taper to 10 mg/day, then 5 mg/day as tolerated
|Low-dose aspirin; 81 mg/day (if low risk)
|Nigella sativa; 200–500 mg encapsulated oil twice/day
|Melatonin; 2–6 mg slow release/extended release prior to bedtime
|Oral vitamin C; 1,000 mg (1 g) two or three times daily
|Magnesium; 100–400 mg/day
|Spermidine (wheat germ extract); 1,000–2,000 mg/day
|Methylene blue; 10–30 mg/day
|Non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS)
|Sunlight and photobiomodulation (PBM)
|Intravenous vitamin C; 25 g/week along with oral vitamin C above
|Resveratrol; 400–500 mg/day
|Behavioral modification, relaxation therapy, mindfulness therapy and psychological support|
Some Covid long-haulers have stuck with their masks, even after public health regulations have lifted. Understandably, they’re frightened of being exposed and reinfected with coronavirus spike protein, which could send them spiraling into a long Covid crash.
But a study published in 2021 found that mask-wearing leads to mask-induced exhaustion syndrome (MIES), which looks very similar to long Covid and may be getting misdiagnosed.
German researchers reviewed over 100 studies on adverse medical mask effects and concluded that masks, especially N95 masks, interfere with oxygen uptake and carbon dioxide release, compromising respiration.
Though the studies evaluated mask wearing for only short periods compared to the long hours that some people wear them, they reported physiological changes that could have long-term clinical consequences, especially for vulnerable groups.
These changes included lower blood oxygen saturation and simultaneously increased carbon dioxide in blood as well as increased heart rate, systolic blood pressure, and skin temperature and humidity. Mask wearers also reported adverse effects on exertion, shortness of breath, headache, acne and sores, skin irritation, itching, heat, voice disorder and dizziness.
“Extended mask-wearing would have the potential . . . to cause a chronic sympathetic stress response. . . . This in turn induces and triggers immune suppression and metabolic syndrome with cardiovascular and neurological diseases,” they concluded. “In any case, the MIES potentially triggered by masks contrasts with the WHO definition of health.”
The FLCCC doctors have listed the following as their most used and most effective therapies and treatments for long Covid and Covid vaccine injury in addition to the first-line therapies.
Dosage: 4,000–5,000 units/day.
Dosage: 100 mcg/day.
Dosage: 600–1,500 mg/day.
Dosage: Follow supplement instructions.
Dosage: The FLCCC suggests a combination of EPA/DHA with an initial dose of 1 g/day (combined EPA and DHA) and increasing up to 4 g/day.
Dosage: 200–500 mg encapsulated oil twice daily.
Dosage: 1,000 mg orally two to three times a day or 25 g intravenous vitamin C weekly
Dosage: Take spermidine derived from wheat germ, 1,000–2,000 mg daily.
Dosage: 400–500 mg/day.
Dosage: 10–40 “dives” of 60–90 minutes each, often with a short break in the middle.